Showbiz Eclipses Politics

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • December 08, 1998

by Karen Feld

The Clintons kicked off the holiday season, Sunday, at the White House with the traditional star-studded reception for the five Kennedy Center honorees – Jason Robards, Victor Borge, Stevie Wonder, Judith Jamison and Sean Connery. Despite some 15 planned Christmas parties in a glittery golden decorated White House, the Clintons are feeling “melancholy” this year, says a top aide. After all, it will be his last true Christmas in The White House as President – he’ll be competing for attention with the President-elect and maybe a New York Senator-elect during the next holidays.

Entertainment buzz took precedence over political talk at “The Honors” weekend except for speculation about the First Lady’s New York senate race. Jason Robards won’t be voting for Hillary. “She’s over the line,” he said. “I live in Connecticut.” And Skitch Henderson was non-committal when asked how he’ll cast his ballot: “I never know til the last minute.” Actor Ron Silver has a real dilemma: “I’m trying to get a job across the Atlantic.” He admitted, “it’s a complicated situation.” Although a big Democratic supporter, Silver is a friend of the Mayor (Republican Rudy Giuliani). “But I’ll be here (at The White House) whenever I’m invited.” As for Mrs. Clinton, she’s preparing for her move to New York. “We’re pulling things out of storage and deciding what has to be recovered and re-upholstered,” she said, “and looking to begin moving things in later this month.”

As moved as he was when he accepted the Kennedy Center Honor, the highlight for Robards was “sitting next to Stevie Wonder.”… Victor Borge compared his award to a kid in school. “You always want good grades to please your parents. This represents a lifetime of achievement. I’ve been working towards it.” The pianist-comedian who’s never at a loss for words, said he was “unprepared” for the Honor… Dancer and Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Judith Jamison, said modestly she was “flabbergasted, very stunned, just overwhelmed” with the recognition. “Alvin only got this award 11 years ago.” “I thought they wanted me to give the award to someone.” President Clinton said “Jamison inspired many of our daughters,” of course, referring to Chelsea, who will be home from Stanford University for Christmas.

Actor Patrick Stewart attended the weekend festivities during his TV debut as Scrooge in “The Christmas Carol.” “It’s ok,” he said. “I do know it ends happily.”

Stevie Wonder had just learned he wasn’t a candidate for a new surgical procedure to restore his eyesight; he joked about it, but it didn’t seem to affect his celebrating. It was after midnight and many of the guests – including President and Mrs. Clinton – had already headed home from the Kennedy Center taped-for-TV (Dec. 29 on CBS) tribute and supper dance. But the evening was still young for honoree Stevie Wonder, singer Diane Schuur and pianist Herbie Hancock. Those who lingered to enjoy the last of Washington’s most glamourous weekend were mesmerized by the entertainers who jammed impromptu into the night.

Fans of Sean Connery, now approaching 70 and still a sex symbol, look forward to his return to Washington in the spring when his wife, Micheline, exhibits her oils at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. President Clinton is among those awaiting his return. Don’t be surprised to see him engaged in a game of golf with “agent 007.” “It’s important to me that he has a fairly low handicap,” said the President.

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